Latest revelation as Trump’s son-in-law Kushner under increasing pressure
Developments on Day 408 of the Trump Administration:
Special Counsel Moves Beyond Russia in Inquiry
Moving beyond Russia’s influence in the Trump campaign, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is looking at the possible involvement of the United Arab Emirates.
“People with knowledge of the discussions” say Mueller’s team has questioned Lebanese-American businessman George Nader about attempts by the UAE to buy political influence with money to the Trump campaign.
Nader was a back-channel negotiator with Syria during the Clinton administration. He then became an advisor to the UAE monarchy, and has been a frequent visitor to the Trump White House.
The UAE line of inquiry appears to be part of a wider examination of possible foreign influence through financial support of Trump’s inner circle. Revelations in the past week have focused on Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who reportedly sought loans for projects — including a troubled New York City skyscraper initiative with a $1.9 billion mortgage — from China, the Gulf States, and Russia.
Last week, a State Department report was leaked which said China, Israel, Mexico, and the UAE all saw Kushner as vulnerable to influence because of his financial concerns and his naiveté. Then it was revealed that Kushner’s father Charles had met with the Qatari Finance Minister in April 2017, seeking a large loan for Kushner Companies.
As a White House advisor, Kushner has also obtained loans from US financial interests, such as Apollo Global Management and Citibank, who then benefitted from changes in regulations ordered by Donald Trump.
Kushner has failed to obtain a full security clearance, in part because of questions over the connections. Last week, he was stripped of his interim clearance, formally denying him access to top-secret intelligence — although Trump can still provide the information to his son-in-law.
The UAE and the White House
UAE advisor Nader frequently met Kushner and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner to discuss American policy toward the Gulf States, in advance of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia in May 2017. Last autumn, Nader received a detailed report from a top Trump fundraiser, Elliott Broidy, about a private meeting with Trump in the Oval Office.
Broidy, the owner of a private security company with hundreds of millions of dollars in UAE contracts, spoke to Trump about a paramilitary force for the Gulf State. He asked Trump to meet privately “in an informal setting” with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the UAE’s military commander and de facto ruler, and to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Trump initially backed the UAE and Saudi blockade of Qatar, even though it hosts a major US military base, in opposition to the stance taken by Tillerson and the State Department.